Headlines – July 27, 2023

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    Headlines – July 27, 2023 Por Jaijongkit

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State Approves Funding For Denver Affordable and Homeless Housing

The City and County of Denver is now eligible for funding towards the construction of thousands of affordable housing units.

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Division of Housing approved the city’s request to access funds through Proposition 123, which voters put into place during the 2022 state election.

Proposition 123 allows local communities to apply for funding to help develop affordable housing for people at risk or experiencing homelessness.

Mayor Mike Johnston called Proposition 123 a “critical tool” and said his office looks forward to “submitting additional applications to the State to help fund our efforts to bring 1,000 Denverites indoors.”

Denver became eligible by pledging to increase its affordable housing units by 9% over three years.

For Denver, that means about 1,500 units per year, totaling over 4,500 affordable housing units over a three-year period. 

Colorado Healthcare Workers to Picket over Patient and Staff Wellbeing 

Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers in Colorado have announced plans to protest* short staffing and financial depletion. 

Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers represented by the Service Employee’s International Union (SEIU) will hold an informational picket Saturday at the Kaiser Permanente Water Park Facility in Aurora. Employees say short staffing in the wake of the pandemic has compromised patient care. 

Patricia Johnson Gibson, a Kaiser Employee for over 20 years and Vice President of Healthcare at SEIU says Kaiser has the resources to retain employees and reduce staffing issues by listening to their demands and investing in the workforce that make quality patient care possible.

Kaiser Permanente is classified as a non-profit healthcare provider organization. It has reported more than $21 billion in profit over the past five years. According to SEIU, Colorado healthcare workers on average make less than $25 an hour in Colorado.

More than 85,000 employees across the nation are participating in the strike, hoping they can create change in the healthcare industry.

Workers at Unhoused Shelter to Form First Union in Colorado  

Staff members at a shelter for unhoused youth in Denver voted Wednesday to unionize through the Service Employees International Union Local 105 (SEIU).

If workers at Urban Peak finalize the plan, it will be a first for unhoused shelter employees in the state.

Workers say their jobs are physically and emotionally demanding and allege that management punishes them when they speak out about traumatic incidents.

The SEIU press release specifically mentions the death of a previous client as an example of such an incident.

19-year-old Xavier Wake was found dead in a tent near Urban Peak on Feb. 12.

Shelter employees say a union will help them address issues with management to make it a safer setting for both workers and unhoused youth.

Footage Shows Oncoming Vehicle Before Deputy Tases Man

A warning: this story may be disturbing to some audiences.

Newly released body camera footage shows that a 28-year-old man running into northbound I-25 was tased by a Larimer County Sheriff’s deputy as an oncoming SUV sped towards him, then ran over his shocked body.

Sheriff’s Deputy Lorenzo Lujan pulled over Brent Thompson the night of Feb. 18 for an expired registration sticker. 

Thompson told Lujan he was driving his girlfriend’s car and did not have his driver’s license with him. Thompson gave Lujan a false name, which the deputy searched when he went back to the patrol car.

When told he was under arrest, Thompson ran across the southbound lane and into the highway median, with Lujan in pursuit yelling that he would tase him.

Footage shows Thompson leaping over the highway guardrail as the SUV’s headlights approach. Then, when Thompson is in the middle of the first northbound lane, Lujan fires his taser. The SUV driver honks, but seconds later, runs over Thompson.

Emergency workers then transported Thompson to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. 

Following an internal Sheriff’s Office investigation, Larimer District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin said last week that Lujan used poor judgment, but did not press charges against him. 

The Thompson family’s attorneys released the footage, and are calling for Lujan’s firing. Thompson’s mother said her son was murdered and that the family plans to bring the case to civil court.

Forest Officials Consider Lease For White Forest Staff Housing Construction 

The United States Forest Service is finalizing a deal to lease land to a local government for workforce housing. 

According to Summit Daily, the proposal uses the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act, or Farm Bill, which allows governments to lease National Forest land for cash and non-cash agreements.

The deal consists of the Dillon ranger district, the Summit County government, and the town of Dillon. 

Under the plan, 162 income-based rental units would be built on some 11 acres that are already home to housing and the ranger district’s offices.

Most of the units would be for working County residents, while some would replace aging housing for ranger district staff.

If all parties reach an agreement, the deal would be one of the first reached using the Farm Bill, and could pave the way for other governments to follow suit. 

Officials have until Sept. 30, the date the current Farm Bill expires, to agree on the deal.

Jeffco Warns of Sex Predator Stalking Female Hikers

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office says seven incidents have been reported of a man assaulting women hiking alone on open space trails.

Officials say the man was naked the first two times he approached women, and that his behavior has become increasingly aggressive.

The incidents occurred between April 3 and July 24, six times in Flying J Ranch Park in Conifer and once at Alderfer Three Sisters Park in Evergreen. 

The Sheriff’s office says the suspect is still at large and is seeking tips from the public to help identify him.

They are urging people to hike with a friend or family member, stay on trails, bring a phone and report suspicious activity. 

The Drought is Officially Back  

The version of the U.S. Drought Monitor released on July 20 once again includes Colorado, just two weeks after the entire state was declared drought-free for the first time since 2019, according to the Denver Post.

Areas impacted include portions of Southwest Colorado, which are experiencing abnormally dry conditions. A slightly larger footprint in western Colorado was included in this week’s drought monitor.

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* The audio version stated the unionized Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers in Colorado, “have announced plans to strike to protest short staffing and financial depletion.” The action they have announced is an informational picket.

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    Headlines – July 27, 2023 Por Jaijongkit

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